St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman proposed a 24 percent increase in the property tax levy last week. Much of the increase is due to the city losing a lawsuit over street maintenance assessments, which is forcing officials to shift cost from a small group of taxpayers to everyone else. And the actual increase for a median home is only $77 per year, according to city estimates.
But none of that matters for Coleman’s 2018 gubernatorial campaign. If you’re explaining, you’re losing, and DFL delegates will have to consider the viability of a general election candidate with the albatross of a 24 percent tax increase on his record. (That comes after years of small tax hikes, too.)
Of course, it doesn’t end there, because if you read deep into a June story about a 2-year-old girl shot in the city’s North End, a police spokesman says gun crime is up 65 percent compared to the same time last year.
The ads write themselves: You want higher taxes? Higher crime? With Chris Coleman, you get both.
Some chatter about a GOP dilemma: Let’s say you put up a credible candidate against political juggernaut Sen. Amy Klobuchar, someone who can get 55 percent — think of the second-place finisher in the governor’s race at the GOP convention maybe? — and Klobuchar is her usual competitive self, going to every county, raising and spending $15 million, her press staff calling to question the placement of a comma. Then maybe she runs up the score, wins 70 counties and drags the rest of the DFL across the finish line. A Klobuchar associate gave a flash of recognition when I mentioned 1976, Hubert Humphrey’s crushing win that secured his place as the most popular Minnesota pol in history.
But if you put up only token opposition — the boxing term for this is “tomato can” — maybe she doesn’t spend much time or money here and instead jets around helping colleagues around the country and going to Iowa and New Hampshire to test the waters. It’s like an unspoken gift to her in the hopes she won’t help the DFL much down-ballot.
But some think Republicans should take her on. Sure, she has strong numbers, but so did Hillary Clinton in 2013. When conservatives mulled taking on the teachers union decades ago, no doubt a lot of people thought it was crazy. For all her sheen of bipartisanship, the thinking goes, Klobuchar is a partisan DFLer with the votes to prove it, and it’s time someone took her on. There’s some recruiting going on.